IT Center Blog

Social Engineering: Deception in Cyberspace

December 27th, 2023 | by
Abstract Concept Illustration of Cyber Security

Source: Freepik

In the world of cyber security, it’s not just technology that plays a crucial role. People are an equally important factor, and this is where social engineering comes in. This sophisticated method specifically exploits human behaviour and weaknesses to gain access to sensitive data or cause damage.


What Is Social Engineering?

Social engineering exploits human characteristics such as helpfulness, trust, fear, or deference to authority to cleverly manipulate people. The aim is, for example, to disclose confidential information, bypass security functions, make bank transfers or install malware.

The main tactic is to conceal the identity and intentions of the perpetrator. For example, cyber criminals often pretend to be technicians, employees of a well-known company or even familiar people from their social circle.


The Variety of Forms of Attack

  • Phishing: This is probably one of the best-known forms of social engineering. Criminals send fake emails or create manipulated websites to trick people into revealing confidential data such as passwords or account information.
  • Spear phishing: This method is more targeted and personalized than phishing. Attacks are tailored to specific groups or even individuals to increase the success rate.
  • CEO fraud: Here, criminals try to manipulate decision-makers in companies. They pretend to act on behalf of the management and induce employees to transfer large sums of money.
  • Personal requests: Attackers try to obtain passwords or access to buildings by pretending to be authorized persons.


Recognize and Protect

  • Awareness is key: make yourselves and your employees aware of the various forms of social engineering. Regular education and training can help to recognize attacks at an early stage.
  • Healthy mistrust: Be sceptical of unexpected requests for sensitive data, especially by email or phone. Reputable companies never ask for such information in this way,
  • Handle information critically: Think carefully about what personal data you disclose in public spaces, as this can be collected and used by cyber criminals in a targeted manner.
  • Strengthen security awareness: If you are aware of the risks and are trained accordingly, you and your team can deal with such attacks more safely.

Social engineering is a serious threat in the cyber world, as it is based on psychological manipulation that is difficult to detect. However, if you know the tactics and are vigilant, you can significantly minimize the success of such attacks. To counter this threat effectively, both technology and security awareness must be strengthened.



Responsible for the content of this article is Malak Mostafa.



Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *